With thanks to Canadian yachtsman Lindsey Ross, who opened a new door for me.
These sailboats with a modern versi0n of square rig would be able to point to windward just as closely as those with Bermudan rig, and some would say, more impressively. With a little practice, crews should be able to tack them just as nimbly, too.
This is achieved very simply, by just rearranging the standing rigging so it won´t prevent the yards being swunbg round to the necessary wind angle. The validity of this rig has been confirmed since 2007 by the 226- G.R.T. sail training vessel Pelican of London, described in my blog Improving the Sailing Qualities of Square Rigged Ships.
On small boats like the two appearing here, all sails would be handled from deck. Something to be avoided is over-indulgence in traditional items of decoration or rig which might affect performance by adding top weight or windage. These boats have a minimum of strings, there are no yard lifts, footlines, clewlines, leechlines or massed buntlines and save in once case, no running sheets.
If anyone has questions on this subject please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I´ll be glad to help without any charge. Only don´t expect too much, your correspondent is a great-grandfather with very reduced eyesight, so you should check out everything I say for yourself.
MANDATORY FEATURES FOR WEATHERLY SQUARE RIG
Yards must be able to swivel until 18.5º from boat´s centreline before coming into contact with any item of stansing rigging. This implies anchoring the masthead backstays unusually far aft. On the deck plan this 3-point bracing of the masthead appears to leave an impossibly large sector unsupported between forestay and backstay, which is why
traditional square-riggers would never have won prizes for windward ability; in practice, however, it gives all the support needed.
Fore shrouds (if size of rig requires thee), are not anchored at the decledge but considerably further inboard, so they won´t indent the foot of the Course when close hauled. Their angle to the mast should not exceed 15º-17º. If you can´t have a Neilson stay to counter the shrouds, this can also be done by means of a Sky Link, as described in the associated blog referred to above.
It is absolutely necessary that yards on each mast should swivel around a common axis, if seripus twisting of the sails at extreme bracing angle is to be avoided. For this reason, masts carrying more than one square sail should be pole masts, or plain marine alloy tubes. Slinging each yard on a hoop circling the mast would ensure a common axis. This hoop would have an eye for the halliard, and some form of closeable hook for the yard to hang on, it being posible to unhook the yard for maintenance.
If mast height calls for shrouds and a Neilson stay, note that this latter fastens to the mast at a point just below the lower yard. This kind of staying imposes conditions on the forward accommodation: there must be bulkheads or such to counter the pull of the shrouds, and the Neilson stay must be prolonged below deck by a tierod to the top of the stem.
Lead between the sails´ centre of effort and the centre of lateral resistance should be 8%-10% of waterline length. The Main Staysail is not included here since it would not normally be set on a course extremely close to the wind.
Mast spacing: when there are square sails on both masts, the air gap between sails on one and the other masts when close hauled should not be less than 1/3 of the mean width of the sail in front. This is to avoid turbulence affecting the sail, or stack of sails, which follows, and which can reduce their thrust to zero, if ignored.
Square sails should be cut much flatter than those of traditional “windjammers”, with camber no more than 2% length of head and leeches. Also cutting the foot in an arc should be done with moderation since this reduces efficiency if it leaves a large gap when there is a sail underneath. A foremast head stay must always go to the stem head, to hold the mast in the evnt of bowsprit wipeout.
As regards general appearance, Scale Effect must always be kept inperspective: for instance, setting the feet of sails too closet to the deck will make the rig look dwarfed when the crew stand up.
COMMON FEATURES OF THE TWO SAMPLE BOATS
The Fore Staysail is roller furling. (Beware mini-jibs, in this small scale all they do is mess up the airflow into the system). No yard lifts fitted, horizontal yard angle gets controlled by braces.
When going about through the wind, these yachts should be pointed really close, and then put about firmly, going through the wind under their inertia as the yards are quickly swung about. With all braces looed off, it should only be necessary to haul on the lower brace.
A day sailer with am 8-ft long cockpit and a shelter cabin with 5-ft headroomn. Sail area 310 sq.ft., ex Main Staysail. Shrouds are not necessary on this foremast, hence the Course foot can benefit from the convenience of handling of a Bentinck boom, a late 19th Century innovation to reduce labour.
Both squares are on running yards, each with a halliard to masthead, and sheeted directly to yardarms with short lanyards. Halliards lead through a turning-block at mast foot, to within reach of cockpit. To furl either, bring both sails down to deck.
Halliards for Gaff Mainsail both go to masthead, leaving mast free for Topsail yards to run on. The Topsail lowe yard dowbnhaul doubles as halliard for Main Staysail. To furl Topsail, the gaff is temporarily lowere to deck. Main shrouds go to masthead, being pinched in towards each other by a linking wire located just below the Topsail lower yard, allowing yard to swing to18.5º In order to avoid a too-narrow shroud angle to mast here, the lower yard slide fitting has a small extension which sets the yard slightly off from the mast.
A bot with cruising capability and 6-ft cabin headroom. Sail area, 460 sq.ft. ex Maim Staysail Foremast has Neilson stay and shrouds, as well as the 3-point masthead sraying. Note that shrouds are anchored well inboard of deck edge. The Course yard is a standing one, (removable for maintenance), the other two are on running yards, each with a halliard to masthead.
Topsail and Topgallant sails both have light, full width battens to limit flogging when furling, which is done by a continuous spiral-rigged buntline each side of sail, twinned into one (initial) furling line which is led to within reach of cockpit.
When fully furled this has the effect of drawing the two upper yards together, so for best appearance at anchor, they could be displayed thus closed-up and hoisted midway up mast above the course yard. This would mean the Topsail having running sheets, led to cleats at mast foot. To avoid having to go forward into the eyes of the ship each time she tacks, the Course has continuos sheets (one each side) which lead through a block at the extreme bow, each end of this loop being made fast to the same one of the two clew/tack cringles. The Course furls like a window curtain, hanging on slides from a track on yard´s underside or on rings along a rod or tubular yard. The endless drawstrings to close-open the sail would also be led aft. To complete furling, a line hanging loose from the middle of the yard would be wound spirally around the folds of sail.
The sheet and tack of the Main Lug-Topsail are short lanyards to the Main gaff. To strike the Topsail both sails must temporarily come down, and in a freshening wind this would be a good time to reef the Mainsail before re-hoisting.
The main topmast is bolted firmly to the head of the lower mast, and not “fidded”.
Palma de Mallorca, Spain
- Square rigged ships for the present day
- A sailing bulk carrier for today
- Improving the sailing qualities of square rigged ships
- The clothes-line rig